Curse of Stars by Donna Compositor Review



This novel is not a cheery story, it is dark and has very few happy moments. To quote Lemony Snickett, "If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle." Curse of Stars is a bleak, action filled book. It opens following the protagonist, Sabi Perez, on an average day in New York City. Her regular world quickly changes when a nefarious figure appeared in her home. Her family quickly went on the run, but to no avail. Jeviar, the antagonist of the novel, apprehends her and takes her to a different world. Soon after her imprisonment, Sabi is introduced to Anya and Cabal, the other main character's of the novel. She discovers she is a diamond crier, someone who's tears are incredibly valuable and she his being held captive for Jeviar to harvest them. And so sets the tone for the rest of this dark fantasy novel.

General Thoughts 

This novel was entertaining but moved at a swift pace. The majority was action with very little world building. That was the biggest issue to me. Sabi was supposedly transported to another world, but there was very little description given regarding it. So little that it frequently just felt like it took place on earth, just in a different time period. It was incredibly disappointing, considering fantasy novels should always have a solid amount of world building that takes place. The pacing was also off, in my opinion. Tons of action, then parts that just drug on yet did not give any detailed information pertinent to the plot. The plus side of it being primarily action is that the novel was never boring. It was also a quick read as a result. I personally enjoy a mix of world building and action to create a balanced novel. However, I do know there are plenty of people who love primarily action packed stories. I did appreciate the tone of the novel. It was dark, bleak, and barely had a smidge of hope. The writing felt very realistic given the novel's circumstances. YA has a habit of being too cheery regardless of circumstances or glossing over negativity. I like the Curse of Stars does not shy away from the dark.

Characters

Sabi
I had mixed feelings towards Sabi. While I related to her feelings, particularly her fear and reluctance towards her new position and the world she was thrust into, there was just something that prevented her from fully making a connection. I believe it is because her personality is a bit flat. It could be due to lack of detail or information about her, but it was difficult to relate to her fully. Sabi also exhibited minimal character growth, but some was present. She is vaguely described as a POC but later her skin is described as being pale or browning in the sun, so it makes it a bit harder to picture her. I do appreciate reading characters of diverse ethnicities and backgrounds, I just wish it was more pertinent to the story other than being briefly mentioned in the beginning.

Anya
Anya is one of the main characters the novel but she is flat and underdeveloped. There is not even much information given about her in the way of background and personality. The only personality traits repeatedly given are crazy and broken, but should definitely more to a character than those two traits. I wanted more details on her past, and definitely needed more conversations with other characters. I felt for her situation since she had gone through hell. But sympathizing with a situation is not the same is having a well-rounded, relatable character. The novel fell short of really making me care about her.

Cabal
How a character can be flat, yet constantly have allusions to having hidden sides is beyond my comprehension. A reader needs to see that there is a personality, that he is hiding things, to make you worry about what he is capable of instead of being told about it. He lacked personality, but we were told how he showed emotions, typically with his face. Otherwise, no hint of personality was shown. It is to the point where I am wondering if he was intentionally written in this manner to give a bit a mystery. However, if that is the case, it fell short. The plot gives times for when the reader questions his motives, but nothing is done to truly make him a mysterious, complex character. Jeviar Another character with plenty of potential, but no follow through, so he fell flat. First issue was with the very little page time he was given. Sure, the reader is told about how evil he is, can see his evil by extension, see the direct effects of his decisions. But when he is on the page, Jeviar does not really exhibit it beyond slapping people around and threats. He reminded me of a cartoon villain just twisting his mustache, being evil because he can. Beyond the family legacy, there is no motivation to be shown as to why he is a cruel ruler. He just is. A complex villain makes for an infinitely better story, so it always bothers me when they are flat, just like Jeviar. Hopefully he will be developed more in subsequent novels. Varkek/Naileigha/Sevinus These characters were not introduced until the end of the novel. As a result, there was not much development given to them. My assumption is they will become more important in subsequent novels and will have more characterization there.

*Spoilers to follow* 

Romance 

I had mixed feelings with the romance. On one hand, I was pleasantly surprised to see it is a LGBTQ+ friendly novel, including the MC's relationship. That is so rare to find in YA. However, the relationship was disappointing as it was not well developed. Thankfully it was not insta-love (I would have been so angry if Compositor did that), but while the characters were traveling and cell companions, thus being physically together, there was not much emotional togetherness beyond comfort. They hugged and provided support to one another in the cell and while traveling. But that does not make a romance. I want to witness a character fall in love through conversation and actions. In this novel, we were just told that she started viewing Anya as beautiful and started to get butterflies around her. No reason or indication as to why it progressed beyond friendship. As a result, it sold the relationship short and made what was supposed to be a romantic scene feel out of place. I was disappointed.

Closing

If you enjoy fast paced action and a darker tone, this novel is for you. If you prefer world building and rich details, you may not enjoy this novel since it lacks in those areas. That being said, give the novel a chance. It is a debut and a first of a series, which shows promise.

*I received a free copy of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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1 comments

  1. Oh! I like dark books and action. Great review!

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